This is our latest guest blog post written by a partner to -- and also a customer of -- Silverpop. David Pitta has 15 years of technology sales and marketing experience including over a decade in the online events industry. He now serves as BrightTALK's Demand Generation Marketing Manager and Evangelist and has helped thousands of marketing professionals use online events to meet lead generation, awareness and community building objectives. He has deployed webcasting solutions for NYU, DoubleClick (Google) and hundreds of other small to enterprise-sized B2B organizations. I’m excited to have him as a customer/partner and to have him contribute to our blog. David's piece today on leveraging online events helps to bridge the worlds of tactical lead generation and nurturing, together with content marketing, and he has great insights into how these concepts can be part of a more-holistic demand generation activity. Welcome, David. ~ABN
B2B marketers are constantly under pressure to deliver highly-qualified, sales-ready opportunities that generate revenue. We juggle lead management, marketing automation and content marketing, as well as overall marketing-sales alignment and priorities. Whether you are looking to augment your existing B2B demand generation program or to create a new one, online events can enhance your demand generation strategy and help you identify, qualify and prioritize your prospects while also broadcasting your messages and building awareness.
In the past year, BrightTALK built a successful demand generation program from scratch by running online events and by processing the data generated from those events through lead scoring, marketing automation and marketing analytics to deliver qualified leads to our sales team that led to revenue. What are our experiences, and how can you leverage them within your own B2B organization?
Here is what we’ve learned ...
Tools for Success
The first step when building a well-tuned B2B demand generation machine is to outline your objectives, define your strategy and find the right tactics. But you won’t have a program without the technology to make it happen. After you’ve outlined your strategy, here are the tools that will optimize your strategy: a resource center, an events platform, an intgrated CRM and marketing automation platform (which includes the ability to send out emails) and social monitoring.
Having a resource center gives you control of your landing pages and gives you access to the analytics of those pages. A series of event landing pages enables you to organize your content and surround your events with your branding and messaging. You can use your website analytics tool to capture information about the traffic to those pages and do split testing to further optimize them. These keyword-rich pages (which can be generated either in your Website CMS or via your marketing automation platform) align your brand with your content and create a valuable way to attract the people most interested in engaging with you. And your marketing automation platform -- synced to your CRM -- enables you to use all of the explicit and implicit information collected through engagement with this content to score, route and nurture leads.
The second step is to integrate your online events platform with your resource center. Embedding your webcasts onto your own website is the ideal way to do this. It allows you to directly analyze traffic to your content and to keep your audience on your site where your company and product information is readily available. The ability to automatically record each live webcast as an on-demand asset also makes it easy for you to continue receiving value from your events, even after the event has been delivered. Most importantly, your online events provider should offer one-time registration so your audience members can view all of your content without having to fill out a new registration form each time. They will be expedited straight to your webcast and can engage with your content faster, while you capture data about who watches what and for how long.
To reach a large and targeted audience, one of your best options is to enlist the support of your marketing automation platform to send out email invitations for and to nurture prospects to attend your online events. Segment your lists so that you target specific audiences with each email. As you develop more diverse content, you will want to invite the most relevant people on your list. You can segment your lists by industry, job function or region. You can also segment by past behavior -- i.e., past engagement with other content, which is a strong indicator that a particular prospect is interested in a particular subject. This will increase the engagement of your audience and also will keep your prospect database from becoming exhausted.
Integrating your marketing automation platform with your CRM enables you to transfer information about each audience member directly from their email and Web-based interactions to your prospect database. When looking up a lead, you will be able to see how often they opened emails as well as their contact information and event viewing history.
Lastly, you should monitor your online presence on social media sites, join the conversations on social networks, and converse with your audience beyond the event. Effective tools alert you to when your company or core keywords are mentioned in conversations on social networks. This insight can help you shape content for future events. You can also use tools to view your social media presence across accounts and networks and manage the role each team member plays in monitoring and contributing to those accounts. These tools help you join the conversation at the right times and keep you focused on delivering your demand generation program.
When developing your content, make sure that it is aligned with your sales cycle and with each stage of B2B buying process (often thought of as a funnel): awareness, consideration, preference and loyalty. First-time attendees to your webcasts are usually seeking educational information and fall into the awareness stage of the sales cycle. In events targeted to this stage, you need to prove to the audience that you understand their pain points and can address their current objectives. Ask yourself, what problems can you solve for them? What insight can you give that will help them meet their technical, marketing or sales objectives?
[caption id="attachment_746" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Source: BrightTALK; click to enlarge"]
As some audience members transition to the consideration stage, they will begin looking for content to help them decide if your company can offer the right product or solution for their needs. Case studies offer a straight-forward way to provide this information by featuring clear examples of how you have helped other companies and customers solve a problem. Offering case studies and other success stories from your current clients validates your business and communicates how you can and have met important objectives that your audience members may have as well.
When targeting those in the preference stage, differentiate yourself from competitors and offer your audience members product-related content. Help them research your company, products and services with your content. For example, hold live demonstrations to give prospects the opportunity to see your products in action and ask any questions they may have. You can also offer a recorded demo for them to view at their convenience. Other important content includes sales collateral such as brochures, graphs and explanations of the different products and services you offer.
The loyalty stage focuses on offering support so they are able to successfully use your products and services to meet their objectives. Another goal is to inspire them to advocate your brand or products and services. Make them want to become the testimonials and case studies you feature by providing them useful service and content. You can supplement your events with white papers, how-to documents and other assets that guide your clients to the answers they need. Sharing your best practices with your audience builds trust and demonstrates that you value their business.
After you have run your events and filled your sales funnel with audience members who are engaged with your content, you must manage these leads and leverage your marketing automation platform to support this process on a mass scale. First, decide what a qualified lead is for your company. Some important parameters include demographic data like industry, job title, company size, geographic location, and level of authority in the company. Over time you will create a more targeted audience base that will contain a higher percentage of your desired leads.
It is important to create a lead scoring system to track the leads you drive into your demand generation machine. A scoring system -- which is supported through both your integrated marketing automatoin and CRM platform -- identifies the leads with the most relevant demographics that are ready to be contacted and helps to drive your dialogue with these prospects. Don’t waste your sales team’s time with every webcast attendee. Only send sales-qualified leads that are ready to speak with someone from your team. Warm up the rest of your attendees with additional content assets -- using scoring to direct each next content offer you make to these attendees. They still need more time with your thought leadership content and may be farther back in their buying process.
A key component of the lead scoring process is tracking how engaged your audience is with your content. By incorporating the event activity into your lead scoring system -- i.e., by capturing this behavioral data and collected demographic data -- you gain greater insight into your audience’s needs, objectives and timeline for purchase. Surveys help you ask your audience specific questions that identify where they are in the sales cycle. Since surveys do not need to be mandatory (although they can be), audience members who answer these questions positively are warmer leads than others and can be contacted immediately by your sales force.
Viewer activity during the event is an important sign of their engagement. Having access to event reporting allows you to see how long each viewer watched your webcast and how many times they returned to view it again. You can also see how many different pieces of content they have watched. During your live webcast, encourage your audience to submit questions and rate the webcast. This engagement allows for the flow of ideas while indicating which audience members have the most interest in your webcasts. Combined together, demographics and event activity give you a comprehensive view of the leads you have in your system and help ensure that you are contacting the leads that are ready to purchase soon, while also giving you a basis to nurture those leads that are not yet sales-ready.
Here is one example of how you could score your leads by demographics and event activity:
[caption id="attachment_747" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Source: BrightTALK; click to enlarge"]
Those closest to your ideal lead profile in terms of demographics, consumption, engagement, interactivity and sentiment would receive a score of “A.” Profiles that deviate more would receive lower scores of “B,” “C,” and “D” depending on how much they differed. The weight you give each of these components of the profile will vary depending on your business. Evaluate the performance of your scoring system by comparing the score you would give the lead with the score the system gives it and analyzing the profiles of the leads that become customers.
From how attendees find your online events to their participation in them, online events generate a lot of data about the people interested in your topics. As you build up your resource center with events you will grow a steady stream of qualified leads for your sales team as well as business intelligence about how your customers interact with your content and what they find valuable. After you have been running your events for a quarter, take some time to analyze the data and use this information to revise your online events program accordingly every quarter. Enjoy the return on your investment.
To find out more about how you can build a B2B demand generation machine, view this webcast from the Online Events Academy by clicking on the player below.